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Condition leaves something to be desired but this sixpenny copy of the 1884 Pall Mall Christmas ‘Extra’, an issue which marks the first appearance in print of Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale ‘The Body Snatcher’, was sold by David Lay at £680.

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It was published in 1867 in Shanghai by the American Presbyterian Mission Press, not so very long after the opening up of Japan to the outside world that resulted from the arrival there of the US Navy’s Commodore Matthew Perry.

Now with the upper cover of the upper binding detached, it was part of a David Lay (18% buyer’s premium) sale of June 30 in Penzance, where it sold at £1300.

Only one other copy is listed in auction records for the last 30 years or more, one that in 2000 was sold by Bloomsbury Auctions for £3000.

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Sold for £250 in Penzance was The Land of Long Ago. A Visit to Fairyland with Humpty Dumpty by LL Weedon. A Nister publication of 1898, it contains six pop-up tableaux (Puss in Boots featured here) that are complete save for a couple of small pieces.

Big sum paid

The day’s most expensive lot, at £9800, was a collection of 90 pamphlets, bound as 13 volumes and dating from the years 1919-40, that feature the work of the Cambridge mathematician Godfrey Harold Hardy, either as the sole author or in collaboration with others.

Previewed in ATG No 2447, a 1908 first of Wind in the Willows sold at £3800, while a volume containing a number of musical works, principal among them a 1752 first printing of 12 Sonatas Modernas para Clavicordio…. by Domenico Scarlatti, realised £3200.

A very different musical lot features among the accompanying illustrations.

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Northward Ho!, or Baffled Not Beaten, words by Commander John P Cheyne, RN and music by Odoardo Barri, define this piece of coloured litho sheet music designed by Alfred Concanen. The three balloons, Enterprise, Resolute and Discovery, were involved in one of the many expeditions looking for the Franklin expedition that had disappeared while searching for a Northwest Passage. It sold online for £180.

Three-decker novel

A three-decker novel by Mrs JH Riddell for which I could find several online references but no auction record, The Nun’s Curse of 1888, was bid to £620. It was once part of WH Smith’s circulating library, but its stickers were here found only on the inside of the covers.

Sold for £1200, one of 600 signed copies of a 1935 edition of Hansel and Gretel… and other stories by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Kay Nielsen, was described as in exceptional condition.

A great many copies have sold for somewhat higher sums.